Teachers in the state of Arizona are protesting in-person classes during the coronavirus pandemic by using a trick normally reserved for wayward students — calling in sick.
According to The New York Times, around 100 teachers did not show up to school on Friday as a way to combat continued in-school learning. The teachers all belonged the the Chandler Unified School District east of the state’s capital of Phoenix. The region has around 46,000 students in its jurisdiction.
The sick-out was instigated after officials announced their intention to continue in-class instruction in January. Arizona is currently battling record cases of the virus, which some educators fear could have consequences for both their own and their students’ health.
“When we returned to in-person learning, teachers and parents did so with the understanding that if any ONE metric went into the red, we would return to virtual learning,” stated a letter written by those taking part in the strike.
“We were also assured that we would not be expected to teach virtually and in-person at the same time. Both of those promises have now been broken,” the note continued.
That said, the decision to strike has been met with some criticism from both health workers and parents, especially since recent studies have showed no link between COVID-19 spread and in-class learning, per NPR.
In fact, a number of childhood specialists have suggested that it is better for kids to return to the classroom. Part of this is due to mental health, as levels of depression and anxiety have skyrocketed as youngsters remain isolated from one another. However, another is due to fears about the quality and accessibility of a virtual education, which particularly negatively affects lower income students and communities of color.
Currently, the district offers a mix of both online and in-person learning, with around three-quarters of students opting for the latter.
In response to the sick-out, officials have urged calm and stated their commitment to reaching a compromise.
“We encourage staff to report to work in the best interest of their students and colleagues,” the district said in a statement. “We understand this is a stressful time and invite teachers to work directly with administration as we seek ways to lessen any negative impact on them.”
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning that the number of deaths from COVID-19 will likely remain at new highs throughout the holiday season and into the new year, as was previously reported by The Inquisitr.